Jacques Bénigne Bossuet

Bossuet, Jacques Bénigne


Born Sept. 27, 1627, in Dijon; died Apr. 12, 1704, in Paris. French writer, church leader, and bishop.

In his works on historical and political topics (Discourse on Universal History, 1681, and Politics Derived From Holy Writ, published in 1709), Bossuet considered historical development as the embodiment of divine providence and defended the idea of the divine origin of a monarch’s absolute power. He made a distinction between despotism and absolutism as a form of rule subordinate to the principle of reason, and he spoke about a monarch’s obligations. He was an ideologist of Gallicanism (Declaration of the French Clergy, 1682). Bossuet’s historical works were subjected to criticism by the Enlightenment thinkers of the 18th century (C. L. Montesquieu and Voltaire). His church sermons and Funeral Orations (1669) have been preserved mostly in rough drafts and summaries. Bossuet’s works are characterized by a rationalistic severity of style and a precision of metaphors.


Oeuvres complètes, vols. 1–31. Paris, 1862–66.


Lanson, G. Istoriia frantsuzskoi literatury, vol. 1 (17th century). St. Petersburg, 1899. (Translated from French.)
Istoriia frantsuzskoi literatury, vol. 1. Moscow-Leningrad, 1946. Pages 459–61.
Brunetière, F. Bossuet. Paris, 1913.
Ruf, A. H. Bossuet und Fenelon. Würzburg-Aumühle, 1940.